Innovations in Virtual and Digital Health

Jeff Sturman, Chief Digital Officer for Memorial Healthcare System, joins the podcast to share insights on virtual and digital innovations used by the health system to improve patient experience and outcomes.

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With the constantly changing technological reality of the healthcare industry, how do you stay updated? In this episode of “Leader to Leader,” Host Ben Hilmes sits down with Memorial Healthcare System Chief Digital Officer, Jeff Sturman, to get his thoughts on the current healthcare technology landscape. From virtual care to remote patient monitoring, Jeff offers a unique look into how healthcare is changing in a post-Covid-19 world. Tune in to learn how to leverage new digital tools to stay at the forefront of innovation and hear Jeff’s thoughts on the growing importance of Chief Digital Officers in the healthcare industry.

Key Takeaways

  • COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of new technology in healthcare delivery.
  • Remote patient monitoring is a game-changer.
  • Embracing cloud technology is crucial to the future of healthcare.
  • Roles like Chief Digital Officer are gaining prominence.

In this podcast:

  • [00:06:06] Memorial's pivot: The growing need for virtual care.
  • [00:08:21] Innovative telemetrics improves patient monitoring and care.
  • [00:21:50] Jeff’s ten-year timeline to transition to a full cloud environment.
  • [00:24:41] Healthcare leaders must stay updated, collaborate, and find partners.
Jeff Sturman Chief Digital Officer Memorial Healthcare System

Our Guest

Jeff Sturman

Jeff Sturman is Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer at Memorial Healthcare System, one of Florida’s largest healthcare organizations made up of six acute care hospitals, including a freestanding children’s hospital, seven community health centers, a nursing home and home health agency. Before that, Jeff was a partner with Cumberland Consulting Group. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and chemistry from Indiana University
Bloomington and his master’s degree in health service management from the University of Missouri-Columbia.


Jeff Sturman [00:00:00]:

But we also look at that as a huge opportunity to create more access points to think about growth, to think about again. We’re never going to have enough primary care providers, at least in my community and employed at memorial. We’re very specialist driven. So if I can create a mechanism by which we can see more patients and we can take care of our community in a more effective manner, again, end in a manner that they really want to be seen, then I think that’s a win for everybody.

Narrator [00:00:34]:

From healthcare it leaders. You’re listening to leader to leader with Ben Hilmes. On today’s episode, our guest is Jeff Sturman, senior vice president and chief digital officer at memorial healthcare system. Jeff is experienced in the planning, management, and facilitation of large scale health system implementation projects and has much to say about the digital transformation of the healthcare industry.

Ben Hilmes [00:00:59]:

Let’s start easy, and then we’ll kind of get to more complex as the dialogue goes along. But I’d love to know a little bit more about your responsibilities. And specifically, we’ve seen this evolution of the CIO to the chief digital officer. Can you help me understand? So you’re the chief digital officer for a really large, complex, county owned health system. What does that mean? How’s that different from a CIO? What are your responsibilities? Just let’s start there.

Jeff Sturman [00:01:26]:

Yeah, it’s an interesting conversation, and I’ve had this conversation with so many over the last few years. I think we’re all trying to grapple as an industry is to figure out what the right title is for people like me. And we’ve evolved from no jabbing there, because I’m sure you have a good title for me, probably similar to what my wife calls me, but don’t go there. So chief information officer. Chief Digital Officer Chief Digital Information Officer. We got innovation in the mix here. It runs the gamut. And I think it just depends on the organization.

Jeff Sturman [00:01:57]:

I think it depends on maybe a little bit of evolution, a little bit of culture, and a little bit of thinking maybe differently about the roots of where information technology started with. For us, the journey started about three and a half years ago, and we changed the title of chief digital officer for a couple of reasons. One. We elevated the position here at Memorial to report right to our Chief Executive Officer, and we thought the title required a little bit more modernization, if you will, and a little bit more focus on innovation and thinking about how you use digital tools to really influence patient care and influence our business at a much more strategic level. The kind of maybe not fair, but the CIO title here at Memorial was historically labeled as a technologist through and through. I am a healthcare guy first and a technology guy second. And I have a passion for digital and how we leverage those tools to make healthcare a little bit easier to digest so that was largely the impetus to make the change in title. The other thing that comes with a chief digital officer role here and again, I think everyone defines this differently is my span of control is a little bit larger than just it.

Jeff Sturman [00:03:18]:

So I have some operational strategy responsibilities for the healthcare system that really put me outside of the technology domain. I have consumer experience, consumer engagement, as I like to call it. A lot of my colleagues still refer to this as patient experience. We’re trying to broaden that definition. I’m sure we’ll get to that as well. And the call centers. So our call centers all report up through me, and that’s our first entry point in a lot of respects for our patients to engage with us. And so, yes, we’re looking at technology and digital ways to foundationally put that in and leverage our call centers in a new, again, more modern way.

Jeff Sturman [00:03:59]:

But we thought the title more closely aligned with those kind of parameters.

Ben Hilmes [00:04:03]:

I love it. I mean, having been on your side and on the vendor side, it’s really great to see that people like you, other CIOs that are now moving to Chief Digital Officer. I’ve even seen Chief Strategy and digital officer is that organizations are truly recognizing that digital is a strategy and that they need senior level, capable executives that aren’t just technologists, but also understand healthcare. And your experience certainly aligns to that. So it’s great to see your organization recognizes that and congrats on all the scope of responsibility and all the work you’re doing. But let’s pivot a little bit. I know you have a passion around different delivery models, virtual being one of those. And I for one thought, when the pandemic hit, this is going to be the tipping point for virtual.

Ben Hilmes [00:04:57]:

And in many ways it was. We had to quickly adapt and set up virtual capabilities. But then when we came out of the pandemic, we quickly saw the pendulum not come all the way back, but it certainly came back. You’ve stayed true to your passion around virtual, driving that strategy at memorial. I’d love to hear your perspective on virtual in general and then what you’re doing to continue to drive that agenda at your organization.

Jeff Sturman [00:05:21]:

Yeah, absolutely. And you’re right. With COVID we accomplished and we put in new programs like virtual health, like telehealth. And if we didn’t have COVID, would there have been another fire that started us all down this journey and get us where we are today as quickly as we are? And I would say for sure, no. So we’ve all benefited, I think, from a technology standpoint about delivering care the way I think consumers, patients really want care to be delivered. And that’s what I’m staying true to, because I think we have to think about care delivery in a multifaceted way. It’s not just that patients are going to come or consumers are going to come to our hospital. And we’re a hospital based healthcare system.

Jeff Sturman [00:06:06]:

Memorial is a terrific organization, but our roots are in hospital based care. And so our Pivot has been thinking about care in, again, a different dimension almost, and thinking about leveling the ability to deliver care in, again, those ways that I think and we think as an organization, our consumers really want to get care and that’s again in multiple ways. And virtual care helps a great deal to facilitate that process. So you’re right in that the pendulum has come back a little bit. I don’t think it’s come back, frankly, a lot, but I think it’s come back a little bit. And that’s an okay thing because virtual care and having no other option but to deliver health care through virtual means isn’t necessarily the best way to deliver care all the time, but it certainly serves a purpose in a lot of different areas. Whether that be and I’ll talk about this, whether that be in remote patient monitoring or virtual care in the hospital setting, or virtual care for telehealth, meaning primary care, physician practice interactions, urgent care, all of those things in my mind mean virtual care. A lot of my colleagues, even probably some of the people that report to me would say an analogy or what the same thing would be is virtual care equals telehealth.

Jeff Sturman [00:07:27]:

And I think telehealth is just a subset of virtual care. I think telehealth is a large subset of virtual care, but not the only component. So let’s take a couple of these because I think they’re really important to talk about. Remote patient monitoring. Rpm didn’t exist five years ago. In a lot of respects, we’ve had it and we’ve moved it much more forward in the last number of years. Remote patient monitoring can take on many different faces. One area that we’ve been very focused on is for chronic disease conditions and focusing on our value based care or population health at risk patients, right? So those patients that we’re at risk for and we see an opportunity to, one, keep them healthy at home, keep them more proactive in their care delivery so that they don’t have to come back to our emergency room, so they don’t have to have a readmission.

Jeff Sturman [00:08:21]:

And so remote patient monitoring in the vendor we use is called telemetrics. And it’s a really innovative solution in that it’s not just a tool set of a blood pressure monitor and a scale at home and a pulse oximeter, but it’s many of those tools combined with care management function. So we’re now using both virtual remote patient monitoring and people care managers to facilitate a process by which we keep our population healthier and thereby cutting down on readmissions. And what that means for us is both a revenue opportunity because we’re not having that patient come back to consume high dollar costs in the hospital setting, which is a good thing if we can keep them healthier at home, we can monitor them more proactively. And two, we see this huge clinical benefit. We really do see a clinical benefit that we’re keeping people healthier in a place that they want to be, they don’t want to be, who wants to be in a hospital, who wants to be going to their physician office if they don’t have to. So if we can deliver care in an environment that our consumers, our patients want to get care, I think there’s a huge advantage from a satisfaction, from a clinical, from a safety, from a quality, and from a revenue standpoint. And then virtual care in terms of telehealth takes on many different forms as well.

Jeff Sturman [00:09:49]:

And I think we look at telehealth as not only getting us by the pandemic and making healthcare delivery possible, but we also look at that as a huge opportunity to create more access points to think about growth, to think about. Again. We’re never going to have enough primary care providers, at least in my community, and employed at memorial, we’re very specialist driven. So if I can create a mechanism by which we can see more patients and we can take care of our community in a more effective manner, again, in a manner that they really want to be seen, then I think that’s a win for everybody.

Ben Hilmes [00:10:28]:

I love it. That may be the best explanation I’ve had on both virtual and very, very interesting stuff. Jeff, you and I have talked about this a lot, which is in a lot of these initiatives and strategies, from a tech perspective, that’s really the easy part. The challenge is how do you move humans and change management? And I’d love to hear how you’re working with your providers, other staff to help them think through. How do you win their hearts and minds, if you would, to get them to move to use these different delivery methods, virtual being one of them?

Jeff Sturman [00:11:06]:

It’s a great question because I think providers in general are used to seeing patients in their care setting and waiting for them to come to them to provide care. But if we can help providers understand, we’re actually easing their burden and we’re getting them to be able to what I’ll call operate or practice at top of license, I think that’s, again, a win for our providers, it’s a win for our patients, it’s a win for the community. And so that’s been the sell the cell has been provider. You should be seeing the more complex, the cool stuff that you signed up to get into medicine for and let us handle some of the stuff that’s either repeatable or easy and things that you don’t need a patient actually coming to your office to see you for a routine issue, whether that be like my son. I’ll give you an example. My son is a freshman at university of Florida, which I’m very proud of him for, and he’s doing great and he had a sore throat last week. And he went to Urgent Care and the Urgent Care in Gainesville, Florida, said, hey, it’s an eight hour wait, come back at your time. The problem with that was that eight hour wait was a time when they were closed.

Jeff Sturman [00:12:22]:

So he had to wait till the next day. So I said, Spencer, get on a virtual call with Memorial Doc now, which is our virtual health platform enabled through a really again innovative solution called KeyCare. And he was able to see a provider in a matter of minutes and get a diagnosis, identify his concerns, relieve him of frankly any concern. And that’s a huge element of clinical care of just talking to a provider. And that can be done in a lot of respects through telehealth. And so our providers love that there’s a group of virtualists that they can really turf some of their payers, or not payers rather, but their patients too in these sort of circumstances. So now we can get care at any time. 24/7 they can get care.

Jeff Sturman [00:13:13]:

And this Key care program that we have is fully integrated into our EHR. It’s an epic solution. So now I have continuity of care. So my son, who’s up in Gainesville, his record is actually in my Memorial health care system, epic record. And his primary care provider can have follow up or if need be, he can actually even be referred to a specialist for, again, more specific need. And the sell is let our providers manage what they can possibly manage and lift a greater level of population to create more access to all of us because we live in a very busy saturated area. If you look at my first appointment available or my third best appointment available, for many of my providers, it’s way too far out. And that’s a matter of managing templates, it’s a matter of having enough providers, it’s a matter of efficiency.

Jeff Sturman [00:14:10]:

And we get all of that. But even all of that being said, I can never have enough providers. So this gives me a way to help them with their current mix of patients.

Ben Hilmes [00:14:22]:

That’s excellent. You’re obviously a data guy when you deploy these kinds of solutions. One, there’s significant investment and you’ve got to go win the board or the finance committee, et cetera. And so I know you take a lot of pride in kind of metrics and how you measure certain things to demonstrate value. Have you had to change or evolve kind of the metric set or the measurement set around your virtual cure? How are you doing that? What are you measuring? What are some of the KPI that you’re looking at on a daily, weekly, monthly basis?

Jeff Sturman [00:14:53]:

We actually have here at Memorial, I think in the last year we have a new CEO in this last year who’s terrific. Scott Wester. A very visionary, collaborative heart in the right place, thinking about data as a measure by which we really look at to again move the needle and think about care in a much more proactive and frankly, in a different way. And so data is king, right? Data is very important to help us understand where we are and where we need to go. So what insights can we learn from data? So there are a few on the virtual side and just technology in general that we’ve really narrowed in on or zeroed in on to influence. The first one I’ll talk about is MyChart activation. For example, MyChart, as probably many of your listeners know, is the Epic patient portal. It’s the portal by which we manage appointments in a lot of respects.

Jeff Sturman [00:15:50]:

It’s where results are delivered. It’s a communication vehicle to providers. And we think it is an incredibly important avenue, a way in which we can interact with our patients, again, both proactively but also reactively and give them information that’s most relevant to their care because we think self service is a tremendous advantage to the delivery of care and self service is a component to MyChart. So My chart activation is, in this general geography, fairly limited, you might think because of the demographics. I live in South Florida. It might be an older population, not that tech savvy. That’s actually not the literature or the research that we have that supports that. We think that there’s a marketing play here, there’s an ease of use play here.

Jeff Sturman [00:16:40]:

There’s an opportunity to get our own employees and different points of access to facilitate a process by which we get My chart in the hands of our patients, our consumers. And we know if that happens, that will be, I think, a competitive advantage, the right thing to do for delivery of care, and a multitude of other reasons as to why there’s benefit and value there. Our My chart numbers are not where we want them to be. We’re on a journey to get to be at least 65% activations in MyChart. We’re really, really close to that number and we’ve had a major effort here in the last year to really boost that up, both on the inpatient side because there’s an inpatient My chart portal as well, which is very valuable to patients who are inpatients. And then there’s the outpatient My chart portal, which again, I talked about some of the benefits there. So My chart activation, we think is a metric that we should be measuring. We think it’s something we should be tracking and we should be helping to push forward.

Jeff Sturman [00:17:45]:

In addition, something we measure all the time is just the amount of access, right? Because we’re all trying to solve this access issue. And as I talked about a moment ago, you can never have enough providers, you can never have enough ways in which you can interact with a patient again, whether it be Ed, urgent care, hospital setting, physician practice setting, or virtual. And so we are measuring the first availability of appointments. The third most available appointment is actually the measure that we use. And we’re looking at that constantly with our providers to figure out where we need to tune things. Again, data is very helpful because without that, you can’t drive insight. And so we’re really looking at those actionable insights that we get from the data to make improvements, whether that be the recruitment of more providers, standing up more freestanding emergency departments, creating more virtual appointments, changing the way we manage our physician templates. All of those are programs that are underway to help manage this.

Jeff Sturman [00:18:56]:

But you don’t know that unless you have the data. And I could keep going on about data, but I know you want to move on. No.

Ben Hilmes [00:19:02]:

That’s great, Jeff. We’re going to pivot to cloud. So I know immemorial, you guys are on your cloud journey. I would say you’re stepping into it. I’d love to hear a couple of things. One, from your perspective, why move to the cloud? Why now? And kind of then broadly, kind of what is your strategy over the coming months and years as you take this kind of a bold move? You’re ahead of most organizations in your thinking and more importantly, your actions.

Jeff Sturman [00:19:31]:

Sure. And thank you for saying that we’re ahead. I’m not sure we are. I think we’re in line with a lot of my colleagues across the country. But look, I think we have to remember the business that we’re in, and the business that we’re in is taking care of people, taking care of our consumers, our communities, our patients. I made a very conscious and collaborative decision with my leadership team to really figure out where our investments go, how we modernize our environment, how we can be innovative while also secure. And that leads us down to the path of moving to the cloud. We can continue to invest in our what I think is a state of the art, wonderful data center that we have at Memorial.

Jeff Sturman [00:20:12]:

We stood it up 15 years ago. It’s a category five data center. We’re very proud of it. I take people on tours there once in a while because we keep it pretty dark on purpose. But is it something that we’re going to want to continue to invest in and stay up to date with? When I think, and we think collectively that the industry is maturing at a pace that’s very hard to stay on top of and people are focused, organizations are focused on doing cloud in a much more sophisticated manner than what I would say our healthcare industry has done. And so let’s take lessons learned. Let’s take chapters out of books from other industries and mature our industry to catch up technically and therefore allow us to be able to innovate more quickly. So that’s the rationale and reason.

Jeff Sturman [00:21:04]:

And I’ll give you one more reason, which is obviously very important to all of us, but cybersecurity and cyber is a real threat and issue for everybody. I do think that you need to create more skills and pivot your knowledge relative to how you manage cyber when you’re an on premise data center versus a cloud data center. They’re both different and unique skill sets, and both very important. Because, by the way, I’m not going to get out of the data center business in total for many, many years. But we have to start somewhere. And so that’s where we are. We’re foundationally starting to think about how we start moving in this direction. So I know this is not a one or two year timeline.

Jeff Sturman [00:21:50]:

This is a five to ten year timeline and probably closer to a ten year timeline to really move us to a full cloud environment. And we’re starting with some of our major applications and some of our major applications like Workday, which is our ERP, which we go live with at the end of the year, is cloud enabled and cloud supported right out of the gate. So it’s not something I’m going to put in my data center, whereas my previous ERP was directly in my two data centers that I have a level of replication around. But I think it would be remiss. And this is what I’ve said to my leadership team, my board and my own team has been educating me on this because at the end of the day, my team educates me a lot more than I educate them. And so they’ve educated me to think about how we do modernize our capabilities, how we do think about security, how we do think about being innovative. And we know the cycles by which we can work at a pace of what I’d like to work at is going to be much quicker in a cloud enabled environment.

Ben Hilmes [00:22:57]:

I think you’re spot on. I mean, I think it’s all about agility, security, innovation, modernization. Those seem to be the driving forces around the Why. As you’ve talked through these topics, it makes me start to think about because you landed on team and your team. As you think about the modernization, virtual cloud, AI, all the buzzwords you’re hearing, how does it force you to have to stop and think about what your team looks like on a go forward basis? Because I think our It teams will look very, very different than they do today as we advance.

Jeff Sturman [00:23:34]:

I’ve said for a long time that teams in It is a balance just like everything that we do, especially in healthcare. And I’m a recovering consultant by background. I’m an operationally minded, hopefully strategic minded individual who likes to think about healthcare workflows. And I use digital and technology to facilitate a lot of that. My team is exactly like that, plus I’ll call it the balance of very strong technologists. And I think the team is going to continue to be a balance and the right balance is a tricky thing. But I’ve hired pharmacists, physicians, nurses, techs people who come from operations, revenue cycle operators who come from operations, who really know workflow. And that’s what I think part of our secret sauce has been, is able to bring that operationally strategic mindset into it, balancing that with some very capable and strong technology minded individuals and groups that really collaborate to make things happen.

Jeff Sturman [00:24:41]:

And I think that’s the right recipe, even for the future. I think the pivot will be making sure people stay up to date with these tool sets, these things that are most important to us, like Artificial Intelligence, like Machine Learning, like Cloud, and knowing that education is part of our DNA as healthcare people. That that’s an okay proposition or even problem to manage because we always have to be in this continuous learning environment. And I say it all the time, if you’re not a change agent and you’re working in healthcare, it you’re in the wrong business. I think it and healthcare is synonymous with change agent. And I think that, again, making sure that you have the balance, the education, the ongoing experience, and know what you’re good at, and maybe sometimes knowing what you’re not good at is equally important to find partners that you can come to that are really good at something. Because we can’t be all good at everything. We can’t figure it out all by ourselves.

Jeff Sturman [00:25:46]:

I’m a huge believer in relationships, and Ben, you and I, we’re brothers, man, and we go way back. These relationships are so important, where we can leverage the knowledge of each other and help each other be successful. But I think that’s truly important for us as an industry.

Ben Hilmes [00:26:02]:

I couldn’t agree more. And I love the fact that you’re integrating operational and technical skill sets together. I truly believe that you always call it kind of two in the box or you always used to use that when you were a consultant, and I should laugh at it, but you mentioned and joked you’re a recovering consultant. You and I have very similar backgrounds. You spent time in education, getting a Master’s in Health Administration, MBA, actually at the same place I did, which is shout out to University of Missouri. Absolutely. And then your career kind of went consulting provider back to consulting kind of entrepreneurial in that second tranche. And now back to the provider side.

Ben Hilmes [00:26:49]:

I’d love to just hear your perspective because on every one of these segments, we’re going to talk about leadership and how those experiences helped shape Jeff Sturman, the leader that he is today, and what insights would you give others into those experiences and how it helped you?

Jeff Sturman [00:27:09]:

Yeah, thank you for that. And yeah, Mizzou and the MHA program, MBA program. There was a great foundation right, for both of us and got us to where we are today. And certainly I give a lot of credit to that. Consulting. You know, some people would say I’m schizophrenic, right? I’ve gone, like you said, from consulting into provider, provider into consulting back to provider, and who knows what is next in the journey. It probably will be one of those again, what right. So nonetheless, I think what consulting has provided to me as learning, as really foundational to who I’ve become as hopefully a leader, I hope I can say that is a few things.

Jeff Sturman [00:27:51]:

One, it taught me relationships through and through. It really did. It taught me that again, we can’t all do this alone, that we have to leverage relationships, that we have to learn from people who’ve been here, done it. We have to know that we don’t always have to have the answer, but we can figure out if we’re smart enough how to get to an answer. Whether that be reading or talking or trying is an okay thing, even if it doesn’t end up being what you thought it was going to be. As long as you can pivot and move quickly from that. Sometimes I think also consulting taught me project management. And with project management that has become much more of an art than a science.

Jeff Sturman [00:28:34]:

And I think maybe this is a little bit of what I would like to say strong facilitation as opposed to project management. Because so much of what I feel like I do and my team does, is actually facilitate with such diverse populations, both internally, externally, even patients and family members, to figure out how we make things happen. And at the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about. It’s about making things happen and being action oriented. And so I would tell you that getting things done is my passion. I love getting things done. I’m not one of those guys that likes to roll over people and just get it done without creating a level of collaborations because relationships mean everything to me. However, I do think if we’re not getting things done and we’re staying stagnant, then we got to think about what our future is going to look like.

Jeff Sturman [00:29:28]:

And it’s probably not a future that I’d want to be part of. I like getting things, making things happen. And I think as a consultant by background, I got paid to get things done. I had to measure my hours. In fact, I was talking to my team, my leadership team in it today, about how we’re really looking at productivity and production and getting things done. And part of that DNA of who I am is about how we make that happen. And so that’s been immensely important to me to always think about new, to think about change, to think about how we’re going to improve upon what we’re doing. Maybe that came to me as a consultant and maybe that’s just who I am.

Ben Hilmes [00:30:12]:

That’s great. Jeff I’m a big believer that having multiple experiences, different companies, or even different experiences within bigger companies is a nice little balance and helps build your character. Your leadership style, your skill set, your experience. But I couldn’t agree more with just the focus on accomplishing a task, getting things done and expecting and measuring and all of those things of your teams really important. You’re probably one of the more connected networked guys that I know. I know for a fact you could be at a conference every week if you wanted to. I think in healthcare, and especially in technology, there are so many organizations that we can be part of, participate in, et cetera. Talk to me about the groups or organizations I know HIMSS, Chime, others that you align to, where do you get the most value? So therefore, where do you spend your time?

Jeff Sturman [00:31:11]:

I think Chime is a wonderful organization. It has gotten big and really comprehensive in their reach. I get a lot of value from Chime just by talking to my colleagues and how it’s expanded over the years to be even more than just CIOs, but a lot of very important strategic partners, as I’ve said previously, are part of Chime from a foundation firm component as well. And so it’s really very valuable, those meetings, those sessions that they host all the time, but two major conferences a year. And to me, again, I said it before, Ben, that I don’t think we can do this alone. I don’t think we have all the answers. I don’t think anyone has all the answers. And to me that’s the biggest value and benefit I get from the relationships, the networking and going to these sort of events.

Jeff Sturman [00:32:02]:

It’s absolutely a very difficult balance. I think balance might be the theme of this conversation, but a difficult balance of how you go and learn from others and be external while maintaining and doing and making change and getting things done internally to your own organizations. And I think it’s a dangerous balance and it’s something that you got to watch out for because you’re right. I feel like I could be at a conference every week, right? I feel like I could be at some networking event or some group every week and it ebbs and flows a little bit right now. It’s a pretty busy time to be at things. And towards the end of the year it seems like everyone’s putting on some sort of event and each one sounds like the coolest thing in the world. So you want to be at these things, at these things, but you got to pick and choose and you can’t be everywhere. And so I picked a few really important events every year.

Jeff Sturman [00:32:58]:

Epic user group meeting was a few weeks ago. That’s a really important event to me. I’m not only networking with colleagues of mine across the country who are dealing with the same pressures, but I’m learning from so many of them about what they’re doing in one of the most critical, if not the most critical tool set that we have at our healthcare systems and that’s our electronic health record. We’re enterprise users of Epic, so we use it very comprehensively. We learn so much. I mean, my team probably rolls their eyes every time I’m firing off an email from Epic user group meeting because I’m asking, are we doing this or what can we do to do this? That’s a really important setting and meeting every year for me. Chime, we talked about, again, huge advantage from not just networking, but the education that they provide. The third, and I’ll only cover this one quickly for you, and that is there’s a group of CIOs and there’s different settings in which small groups of CIOs get together and there’s variety of these across the country or the world even.

Jeff Sturman [00:34:02]:

And I like to participate in those because when I get in a room of twelve to 15 or 20 CIOs that are really feeling the same pressures and pain and trying to figure out how to again move the needle like I am at Memorial, then you can have really personal, professional, meaningful dialogue. And so I find a lot of value in those sort of settings because it’s so important to spend a little bit of time talking about stories, learn from others and sharing. And that’s what it’s all about, to ultimately influence our populations.

Ben Hilmes [00:34:38]:

That’s great. So, I mean, you’re large, important strategic vendors, industry, iconic large scale events like Chime, but then ultimately in the room with peers and other leaders talking about how do we get stuff done, where are you doing it? What are you doing?

Jeff Sturman [00:34:56]:


Ben Hilmes [00:34:57]:

How are you doing? I love it. So that’s a nice balance of networks, Jeff. We’re going to move into the lightning round, so hope you’re ready. Just quick answers, things that just kind of come top of head. So if you had to describe your leadership style in like two or three words, what would you say?

Jeff Sturman [00:35:15]:

By no surprise, hopefully, you’ll hear this as also one of our themes of today action, collaborative and care.

Ben Hilmes [00:35:23]:

That’s awesome. Who’s been kind of the biggest influence or mentor in your career?

Jeff Sturman [00:35:31]:

So I’ve been fortunate of having so many great leaders and mentors and being connected with such professional people, both from my early days at Ernst Young to my more entrepreneurial days at a startup consulting firm, to working in a begged care provider organization. And I can name people at each one of those places that have been leaders and mentors in my life. But I’m going to tell you, the people that influenced me most, and you’re not going to be surprised by this, are my parents.

Ben Hilmes [00:36:01]:

That’s awesome.

Jeff Sturman [00:36:02]:

My dad’s a doctor, my mom is an extraordinarily gifted entrepreneur and fundraiser. I’ve learned a lot with the balance of both health care from my dad and that fundraising and very community focused mindset that my mom brings to me.

Ben Hilmes [00:36:18]:

I love that. I would ask you who your heroes are, but I think I already know the answer to that question. I think you had just answered it.

Jeff Sturman [00:36:24]:

Well, you’re right, it is my family. I’ll be more general than even my parents there. My family is my hero. My family means everything to me. My kids, my wife are through and through. My heroes, they are everything to me, my parents. But the one person I’ll highlight in the family, unfortunately no longer around my grandfather was my hero through and through. He was this relationship guy.

Jeff Sturman [00:36:49]:

He was this, I thought, wonderful, charismatic, handsome guy who was in business, who worked his butt off trying to get to a place that created success for the family. He did it in spades and he and I were very, very close.

Ben Hilmes [00:37:05]:

Well, I’m glad I didn’t skip that. That’s awesome. Not sure I knew that I know you well but I did not know that one. So that’s great. So I know the answer to this one. But when you’re not working and you’re not doing family stuff, et cetera, what’s something you like to do? To kind of blow off steam or just get away from it all?

Jeff Sturman [00:37:23]:

Two things. But you mentioned family so that’s obviously on the list. Being with my family is really important to me. But playing tennis, I play a lot of tennis, I travel a lot both personally and professionally. But I love the person. The reason I work is to travel, see the world and we’ve been very fortunate to see a lot together, my wife and I.

Ben Hilmes [00:37:41]:

That’s awesome. Go back, last question here. Go back to Jeff Sterman at the University of Missouri and graduate school and walk in that room, he’s sitting there in a class or something you had the opportunity to talk to him about, give him some advice, et cetera. What would you tell him?

Jeff Sturman [00:37:58]:

Stay true to yourself. No one knows you better than yourself. Do what you love. I know that sounds like a cliche and everyone says it, but you got to do what you love. Because if you do what you love, you’re going to always be happier than doing something you don’t love. Doing something you don’t love isn’t sustainable. Doing something you love is sustainable. And know yourself, be yourself, do and be yourself.

Jeff Sturman [00:38:22]:

Because you know what, no one’s going to be your champion like you can be for yourself. I love it.

Ben Hilmes [00:38:27]:

That’s an excellent answer and it’s a great way to wrap up. Jeff, I just want to thank you. This has been really good insightful for me and highly confident people are going to love this one. This is going to be a highlight of the year. So I really appreciate your time, love what you’re doing for your organization. I love what you’re doing. It really for all the right reasons. You and I have had a lot of these conversations over the past several months and it really is a passion of yours about how do you serve the community and I love that you live in that community.

Ben Hilmes [00:38:55]:

We all know healthcare at some point becomes very personal. I think those of us that are in it, it’s personal every day. So really do appreciate you, what you’re doing and certainly appreciate you being on the program.

Jeff Sturman [00:39:09]:

Ben, a lot of fun, man. Love doing this with you. Thank you.

Ben Hilmes [00:39:13]:

I really enjoyed talking to Jeff today. He has a great deal of wisdom to share about the evolution of healthcare technology in a post COVID-19 world. Here are my top takeaways from our conversation. One, COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of technology and healthcare delivery and virtual care, including telehealth, and all of those services are certainly here to stay. Two, remote patient monitoring has become a game changer in care delivery, particularly for chronic disease conditions at at risk patients. Three, embracing cloud technology and innovation is crucial to the future of healthcare. Four, collaboration, relationships and continuous learning are essential to be successful in the healthcare industry. And five, the role of a healthcare technology executive is evolving and titles like Chief Digital Officer are gaining in prominence.

Ben Hilmes [00:40:10]:

So, what did you think? What were your big takeaways from this episode? I’d love to hear from you on our social media channels or drop me an email from our website @ Until next time, I’m Ben Hilmes.

Narrator [00:40:25]:

Thanks for joining us. For leader to leader. To learn more about how to fuel your own personal leadership journey through the healthcare industry, visit Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any insights, and we’ll see you on the next episode. Thanks for joining us. For leader to leader. To learn more about how to fuel your own personal leadership journey through the healthcare industry, visit Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any insights, and we’ll see you on the next episode.

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